After the lost spring season of 2020, Monona Grove sophomore Maddie Hogan and Madison Edgewood junior Nikita Lebbie made track and field their priority.
Hogan spent countless hours in the offseason preparing for this season. Lebbie said she gave up other sports, including basketball and tennis, and concentrated solely on track and getting stronger in the weight room.
“I missed it,” Lebbie said about the WIAA’s 2020 spring season being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s good to be back.”
Their work showed Tuesday, when Hogan and Lebbie were individual standouts in the Badger South Conference girls meet in 90-degree weather at Edgewood’s Goodman Athletic Complex.
Hogan won four events — the 100-meter high hurdles in 15.64 seconds; 200 (:26.13); 400 (:55.87); and high jump (5 feet).
“I just wanted to do my best,” Hogan said. “I knew it was going to be really hot, so I had to hydrate and prepare mentally. Since Friday went so well (at an invitational in Sun Prairie), I had a lot of faith going into this meet that I’d do well. It’s a big mental game, just pushing through (all the events).”
Lebbie earned first places in the 100 (:12.52) and long jump (16 feet, 11¾ inches), was the anchor runner who rallied Edgewood to victory in the 800 relay (1:52.10) and placed third in the 200 (:27.00) behind winner Hogan and Monroe freshman Aleigh Zettle (:26.45).
Lebbie helped lead the Crusaders to the girls conference title with 118 points — the school’s first, Edgewood coach Jeff Gifford said. Stoughton was second (111.50) and Monona Grove third (106).
“We have never won a conference championship in the boys or the girls, so this is a big deal (for Edgewood),” said Gifford, who oversees both programs. “These kids have worked hard. The girls, all year, have been phenomenal.”
Gifford shuffled the 800 relay team of sophomore Victoria Rodriguez, freshman Anna Messner, senior Joelle Browne and Lebbie, who responded well to the anchor role by kicking to victory after being in third place at the final turn.
“I was really just thinking about the team and how hard we’ve worked this year,” she said. “My teammates were already doing such a great job, I thought I may as well finish for them.”
Lebbie, who said she hopes to break the school record of 12 seconds flat in the 100 this season and top 17 feet in the long jump, used last season as motivation.
“At first, I saw COVID as a setback,” Lebbie said. “Then I definitely used it to my advantage. I quit basketball and tennis and made track my main focus. I was constantly in the weight room and I was constantly on the track, when I got the opportunity.”
Hogan missed her freshman season last year.
“We were just hoping we were going to have a season this year because of COVID,” Hogan said. “So, because I missed out freshman year, I did a lot of training over the winter and coming into the season. So, I was a bit ahead of the game than some of the girls here. I had a lot of extra training under my belt.”
Monona Grove senior Zoe Jenks-Recker set a conference record in winning the pole vault (11-7).
That broke the 2015 mark of 11-0, held by Stoughton’s Hannah Posick.
Watertown junior Riley Quinn won the discus (113-11) and the shot put (39-8).
In the boys meet, Monroe won with 116½ points, led by junior J.T. Seagreaves’ first-place finishes in the 100 (:11.40) and 200 (:22.70). Monona Grove was runner-up (111) and Edgewood finished third (105).
Edgewood senior Leo Richardson, a University of Wisconsin commit, won the 1,600 in a personal-best 4:19.41, claimed first in the 3,200 in 9:45.93 and finished second (2:01.71) in the 800 behind winner Yordanos Zelinski (1:58.80), an Oregon junior.
“You really go into it and forget about the time and go for place (in the heat),” said Richardson, who was the WIAA Division 2 boys cross country champion last fall. “It’s all about `guts out.’
“The guys had a goal today to try our hardest to push ourselves and show off the work we’ve put in this season. … It’s just really great to be back on the track after a really difficult time last year with not having a season.”
Fort Atkinson junior Drew Evans won the discus (157-7) and the shot put (51-8½).
Led by multiple-event winners Sarah Bova and Kyla Saleh, the Waunakee girls ran to the Badger North championship at DeForest. Bova won the 100 (:12.53), 200 (:25.45) and 400 (:57.25). Saleh won the high jump (5-4) and long jump (17-7¾) to help Waunakee score 168 points, topping DeForest’s 144.
DeForest sophomore Anna Szepieniec won the 110 hurdles (:15.32), 300 hurdles (:47.03) and triple jump (35-10), and led off the winning 1,600 relay (4:17.42).
DeForest won the boys title (164 points), followed by Waunakee with 132. Waunakee sophomore Andrew Regnier won the 400 (:49.5) and triple jump (43-7).
Mount Horeb senior Sam Mrochek won the 100 (:11.29) and 200 (:23.3), Sauk Prairie sophomore Jack Boerger won the 1,600 (4:33.66) and 3,200 (10:12.24), Reedsburg junior Bryant Yanke won the 110 hurdles (:16.05) and 300 hurdles (:41.10), and Baraboo senior Jake Schaefer won the shot put (49-0¾) and discus (171-8).
The Platteville boys and Lancaster girls claimed team titles, with River Valley finishing fifth in both meets.
For the Blackhawk boys, junior Zach Gloudeman won the 200 and took third in the 100 and shot put. The girls were led by sophomore McKenzie Kruse, who won the 400 (1:00.26) and pole vault (9-6).
The Deerfield boys won the day’s first event, the 3,200-meter relay, and led the rest of the way to win the Trailways Conference meet at Palmyra-Eagle. The relay crew of Cody Curtis, James Connely, Kalob Kimmel and Robert Thompson won in 9:23.32.
The Demons also got second places in the 110 and 300 hurdles from Dayton Lasack, seconds from Ray Bach in the pole vault (12-6) and Carter Meske in the discus (114-5), and fourth places from Martin Kimmel in the 800 and 1,600.
Deerfield’s Steffi Siewert won three individual events.
The Demons scored only four more points and finished ninth in the 18-team field.
The sophomore won the long jump (16-3¾), 100 (:12.77) and 200 (:27.07).
The Madison Country Day co-op took fifth as Ella Whinney won the 3,200 (13:55.23), took second in the high jump (5-0) and 800 (2:36.21) and anchored the winning 3,200 relay (10:55.31). Dodgeland won the team title.